Kimberís Advanced Tactical Rifle Kit

 

by Leroy Thompson

photography by Leroy Thompson

October 17th, 2007

 

 

 

Kimber has established a well deserved reputation for producing some of the best combat autoloading pistols on the market. In fact, I use four Kimber .45 autos a lot--both a black and a stainless TLE/RLII, a Desert Warrior, and a Custom CDP II.  I would feel well armed carrying any of these pistols as they have proven themselves both reliable and accurate again and again. Even though this article is about a Kimber rifle, I mentioned my experience with Kimber handguns to make that point that I have had long familiarity with Kimber quality. During the period Iíve been using Kimber pistols, I have been aware that the company also produces high quality sporting rifles, but since my orientation has always been towards tactical rifles I showed little interest. However, once I saw Kimberís Advanced Tactical Rifle, I suddenly got interested in it.

Kimber is actually offering three variants of tactical rifle, but I am going to focus on the top-of-the-line Kimber Advanced Tactical Rifle Kit. First, let me say that I am normally suspicious of tactical rifle ďkitsĒ which come with scope, bipod, etc. since many companies donít really supply high quality accessories in such kits. This is not the case with the Kimber Advanced Tactical Rifle Kit. Each accessory is top quality, usually the one I would have chosen as the best of its type. This is so much the case that when the big case containing the ďKit.Ē arrived and I opened it for the first time, I actually felt a bit of a ďWow!Ē factor. Since I see a lot of guns every year to test, it takes something special to cause me to pause to be impressed.

As neat as the kit is, though, if the rifle isnít good itís just window dressing.  Kimberís Advanced Tactical Rifle is chambered for the .308 round, the standard for law enforcement and many military applications.    Probably the first thing most shooters will notice with the Advanced Tactical is the McMillan A-5 stock in desert camo. It is very striking in appearance, but it also incorporates a lot of really useful tactical features.  For example, it incorporates five sling swivel studs, one of which is only for bipod attachment. The others, however, offer the ability to attach a sling in various positions using quick detach swivel connectors. Since the rifle weighs close to 10 lbs without scope and bipod, a good sling is a necessity. The choice of attachment points allows a tactical marksman to tighten up to use the sling for shooting from the seated or kneeling position or even from off hand but or have the option for switching attachment points for ease of carry. Length of pull is adjustable through removal or addition of spacers beneath the recoil pad.  Drop at heel and drop at comb are adjustable as well.  I also like the flat on the forearm which allows use of a sand bag or other rest. 

The glass bedded action uses a full length Mauser claw extractor, much better than the extractor used on some other ďtactical rifles.Ē The safety is a 3-position Model 70 Winchester type.  I am used to most tactical rifles having a receiver mounted sliding safety of some type so I had to get used to the bolt-mounted lever safety on the Advanced Tactical. Thatís not a criticism since it is a very sure safety and one that is easy to flick off with the thumb without shifting shooting position or losing cheek weld.  Since I train tactical units and test tactical rifles a lot, I switch among up to a dozen types to keep my familiarity. The typical tactical marksman, however, will use one rifle to which he will become accustomed so as long as itís a good safety system, he will be able to operate it smoothly. Bottom line--the Advanced Tactical has a good safety.      

Magazine capacity is 5 rounds. The Advanced Tactical uses a fixed magazine, and that is my only real criticism of this rifle. Many tactical marksmen today prefer a detachable magazine which allows multiple types of rounds to be carried to fit possible tactical situations (i.e. hollow point, AP, etc. ).  Secondly, large hostage incidents such as at Beslan School in Russia have shown that tactical marksmen facing large numbers of terrorists with large numbers of hostages may have to give rapid covering fire to protect escaping hostages; hence, a fast reload capability is desirable. On the plus side, the Advanced Tacticalís magazine is one of the smoothest and most reliable fixed magazines Iíve tried on a tactical rifle.

The Advanced Tactical uses a 24 inch bull barrel with a 1 in 12 right hand twist and 4 grooves. The chamber is match grade and carefully polished. During rapid engagement drills in which I fired two or three rounds at plates at 100, 200, or 300 yards as quickly as I could work the bolt, I found the combo of the polished chamber and smooth magazine allowed very fast multiple engagement. To match the stock, the barrel has a tan finish as well. 

The trigger is adjustable and comes from the factory with pull set at 3.0-3.5 lbs. It is very smooth and crisp and is a real aid to accurate shooting.  A Mil Spec Picatinny rail with 20 minutes of elevation allows mounting of a variety of scopes. The bolt head is of the bulbous type that allows very sure and fast operation. Normally, tactical marksmen are trained to use the palm to quickly flip the bolt handle up, back, and then forward.  The Advanced Tactical bolt handle aids in this manipulation and helps counter short stroking.  In fact, when I was doing one fast engagement drill, my shooting buddy sang out that he thought I had short stroked but that was not the case.    

Depending upon how one arranges the spacers to obtain the most comfortable length of pull, overall length will run somewhere between 43 and 44 inches.  Weight is 9 lbs 13 ounces. MSRP on just the Advanced Tactical Rifle is $2497.00. However, as I stated earlier in this article, I tested the entire Advanced Tactical Rifle Kit so let me talk about the other components.   

Most important is the scope since no matter how good a tactical rifle is, without a good scope its potential wonít be maximized. For inclusion with the Advanced Tactical, Kimber chose the Leupold tactical scope that I consider the best choice available for a .308 tactical rifle. The 3.5-10x40MM LR/T M1 Mil Dot Illuminated Reticle chosen by Kimber is the same optic that I have normally carried on the tactical rifle I sometimes carry in my truck. The only difference is that this one is tan to match the rifle. This scope is durable, relatively light and compact, precise, and usable in low light. The M1 dials allow precise adjustments for elevation and windage with clicks that are audible and tactile (i.e. one can feel the clicks through your finger tips). With a bit of practice, one can dial in adjustments quickly without removing the eye from the scope.  The Mil Dot system allows fast range estimation once familiar with it and even if a laser range finder is used offers an excellent backup.  Iíve used Mil Dots for so long that I just shoot better with them even if I donít use them for range estimation all the time. Leupoldís illuminated reticles are outstanding.  I have used them at 300 yards in almost complete darkness when only a small amount of light illuminated the target and shot groups close to a MOA. The LR/T also incorporates a side focus dial which allows one to adjust focus easily without removing the eye from the scope.  I could go on, but suffice it to say that I donít feel Kimber could have chosen a better optic for this rifle.

Also included with the kit is a Versa-Pod bipod. Versa-Pod has a great reputation for holding up to a lot of shooting. Two other features I also like are that the spring-powered legs deploy very fast and that the bipod may be easily detached from the rifle for ease of carry or for shooting offhand.  Once again, had I been given my choice this is the bipod I would have chosen for the rifle.

Otis Technologyís 7.62 sniper rifle cleaning kit is included in a nice compact carrying case as is an excellent tactical sling with QD swivel connectors. A sniperís record book and a torque wrench round out the rest of the kit.  The hard case is fitted to the rifle and accessories and allows the rifle to be carried with scope mounted. 

Speaking of the scope being mounted, it comes already mounted when one purchases the kit and is pre-bore sighted.  As a result, when I went to the range I proceeded directly to 200 yards--the distance at which I normally zero .308 tactical rifles--and put up a target.  Two three-shot groups with Black Hills 168 grain BTHP and the Leupold was zeroed. I then returned the LR/Tís dial to the zero position for both windage and elevation so that I can precisely dial in windage or elevation adjustments, then return to zero. 

I will say now and will, no doubt, repeat myself a couple of times that I was very impressed with the Advanced Tactical Rifleís accuracy.  At 200 yards with Black Hills 168 grain BTHP, a load widely used in .308 tactical rifles, I fired four three-shot groups, all of which were under 2 inches with he best at between 1.25 and 1.5 inches. I also fired one 5-shot group that shaded just over 2 inches.  This is definitely a sub-MOA rifle. At  300 yards, my groups ran just under or just over 3 inches--2.75-3.5,Ē once again excellent accuracy.  I wanted to try Federal .308 Winchester 168 grain Match also since this is the other load I find a good benchmark with tactical .308 rifles.  My first 3-shot group at 200 yards was .75 inches.  This isnít the first time Iíve shot less than 1/2 MOA at 200 yards but I donít do it all that often.  Letís put it this way, if I can shoot less than 1/2 MOA at 200 yards with the Advanced Tactical than a better shooter--of which there are legion--should be able to go under .5 inch to hit 1/4 MOA.  

Due to a bum knee I did not shoot kneeling but did all of my shooting from a standing rest or prone using the bipod. In all, I put 80 rounds of the Black Hills loads and 20 of the Federal through the Kimber so I could really get a feel for the rifle.  Feeding was smooth throughout as was the operation of the bolt.  My shoulder, which sometimes shows bruising after shooting a lot of rifle rounds prone or off a bench, was none the worse for wear; the Advanced Tacticalís weight and good recoil pad make it very pleasant to shoot.  At 200 and 300 yards I used the LR/T on six power, but then did some 550 yard shooting at a hanging plate with it on 10 power.  

I also did some off hand shooting at 100 yards at plates, normally starting with the Advanced Tactical rifle in a ready position, then bringing it up to acquire and engage.  The Advanced Tactical is not light, but it can be shot off hand by anyone with good arm strength.

The more I shot the Advanced Tactical Rifle the more I liked it. And, since it is a very handsome rifle instead of sticking it in the corner when I got home and thinking, ďIíll get to cleaning it after dinner,Ē I actually took time to handle it and clean it before dinner--Thatís big!!  I really, really like this rifle.

This rifle is not cheap and the kit is certainly not cheap.  As I mentioned earlier, just the rifle in the hard case retails at $2497.00. The contents of the kit add another $2575.00 retail. Therefore, the entire Kimber Advanced Tactical Rifle Kit as I tested it has an MSRP of $5072.00.        Price high quality tactical rifles and high quality tactical scopes and that total wonít sound at all out of line. I did some thinking about the market for this rifle which made me consider a friend who is quite successful and earns a good income.  He is interested in guns but not extremely so.      He is most interested in having a few quality guns in case of emergency or attempted home invasion or other unforeseen situation.  He has a couple of excellent defensive handguns and a concealed carry license.  He owns an AK47, a good supply of spare magazines, and a case of ammo.  He has also expressed an interest in a good tactical rifle.  I feel this Kimber kit would be perfect for him.  Everything is there.  One range session would have the rifle zeroed.  He could take it out a couple of times a year as he does his other weapons and shoot it, check zero, check the battery in the Leupold for the illuminated reticle, and get his yearly shooting practice in.  I think Kimber lovers will want to add an Advanced Tactical Rifle to their collection as well. I mean, after all, if you have a Kimber Desert Warrior you need a tan rifle to go with your tan pistol! This is such a neat Kit that I think some of us will just start looking for excuses to buy one.

I certainly like the rifle and the accessories. It is a very handsome setup and it shoots with other world-class tactical rifles. Whatís not to like?

Leroy Thompson

For more information about products discussed contact:

Kimber

www.kimberamerica.com

 

Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

www.leupold.com

 

Kengís Firearms Specialties, Inc. (Versapod)

www.versapod.com

 

Otis Technology

www.otisgun.com

 

Black Hills Ammunition

www.black-hills.com

 

Federal Premium Ammunition

www.federalpremium.com

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

The Kimber Advanced Tactical Rifle or Tactical Rifle Kit comes in this sturdy carrying case.

 

 

The Kimber Advanced Tactical Rifle Kit in its carrying case.

 

 

The recoil pad must be removed with a hex wrench if spacers are to be added or removed to adjust length of pull to fit the individual shooter.

 

 

3-shot, .75 inch group fired at 200 yards with Federal 168 grain BTHP.

 

 

3-shot 1.5 inch group fired at 200 yards with Black hills 168 grain BTHP.

 

 

The Kimber Advanced Tactical Rifle with Leupold scope mounted, Versa-Pod bipod mounted, and tactical sling attached to side mounting points.

 

 

Note the broad forearm on the Kimber Advanced Tactical which allows use of sand bags or other rests very effectively.

 

 

The Advanced Tacticalís MciMillan stock allows quick adjustment for drop at heel or drop at comb.

 

 

Note the large bolt handle which allows the palm to be used for quick operation.  Note also the Model 70 style lever safety.

 

 

The Advanced Tacticalís bull barrel is precisely crowned.

 

 

The Advanced Tacticalís multiple sling mounting points allow quick attachment or detachment of the sling

 

 

Thompson firing the Kimber Advanced Tactical at hanging plates at 550 yards.

 

 

Thompson tests the Advanced Tacticalís handling characteristics for engagement in a ďpatrolĒ situation.

 

 

The Advanced Tacticalís camo stock, barrel, and scope are designed to blend with a desert environment.